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Betty Glascoe has been a playwright for 15 years, but with her latest work, My Brother’s Keeper, she finds herself wearing more hats than she bargained for. In addition to writing and directing the play, she wrote one of the songs for the gospel drama. Keeper also marks the first time she has produced one of her works independently.
Lacking the finances of more established producers, Glascoe compensates with an extra measure of creativity and determination. Last week the Columbia, Md., resident took a bullhorn and went out in a caravan of 10 cars to publicize the production. A crew of supporters passed out flyers along the way.
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So far, that kind of hard work has paid off. She secured several dates at the Lincoln Theatre—a tremendous boon for any artist, but especially for an emerging playwright without the name recognition usually required to book a major theater. Like Glascoe, most of the performers are unknowns from Maryland. One exception is gospel singer Sherry Hunt, who was a vocalist in the Broadway hit, Mama, I Want to Sing, and who also contributed to Keeper’s score.
Glascoe describes Keeper as the story of a “most unscrupulous” corporate giant who “falls to the depths of homelessness and later rises to new heights in the ministry.” Many of the black musicals currently touring trade in slapstick, but Glascoe wanted to make sure that her message wasn’t lost in a tide of cheap laughs: “It really is a lesson of love between two men.”
Glascoe wrote the play three years ago and has staged productions in Baltimore and New York, but this is the first time it has been performed in Washington. “I’d like to see it move, go to different states. The message is so pertinent and so needed,” she says. “I know it may be a little idealistic, but we have to look at people’s hearts and realize, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’” My Brother’s Keeper plays March 29-31 at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. (202) 328-6000.CP